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DIY Tips to Prevent Burst Pipes

Posted Nov 28, 2019

Burst pipes are expensive, destructive, and…preventable. Colder temperatures are here, so it’s essential to winterize the plumbing at home and if you think it’s going to give you a lot of work, don’t worry! The right proactive maintenance will keep your home’s pipes warm and cozy all winter so that you and your place stays comfortable and dry!

Our team of experts came up with a few DIY tips for you:

1- Insulate Exposed Pipes

Check to see if you have exposed piping in un-insulated spaces such as a crawlspace, attic, outside walls, etc. If you do, you should insulate the pipes. The materials are inexpensive and the task doesn’t require a high level of DIY skill. However, it does require patience and care to ensure that pipes are completely covered.

There are a number of different options for insulating pipes. You can wrap regular fibreglass attic insulation around pipes, but an easier alternative is the foam or fibreglass tubing (also called “tubular sleeve insulation”) that is made specifically for pipes. You should look for insulation with an R-4 rating (most standard 5/8 foam tubes have this rating).

Whatever insulation you use, make sure you begin by removing any dirt or grease from the pipes with a rag and mild cleanser. Allow the pipes to dry thoroughly before wrapping them with insulation. Make sure you cover the pipe completely, taking extra care at corners wherever two sleeves or pieces of insulation meet. Wrap these areas with duct tape to seal them completely.

Always use duct tape to secure the insulation of your pipes. Other forms of tape, like masking or electrical, will stretch or break over time. You will eventually lose the integrity of your seal and have to tape the pipes all over again.

2- Caulk Outside Pipes

Caulk around pipes where they enter your house from the outside. There are lots of different types of caulk, so check with your plumber or local hardware store to find out which type will be best for your home.

3- Shut off and Drain Exterior Faucets (or insulate them)

First, go down to your basement and locate the shut-off valve for each exterior faucet. Turn the valve so that the water supply is shut off. Then, go outside and turn the faucet on, so that any remaining water drains out of the faucet. (You can leave the faucet in the on position all winter.)

Don’t forget! When you’re looking for exposed pipes to insulate, focus on pipes where the water comes in, not pipes where the water drains. Drain pipes – except for the traps beneath sinks, tubs, and showers – generally do not hold enough water to cause damage if frozen.

4- Heating Tape                   

If you have pipes that have frozen in past winters or pipes in spaces that will fall below zero, you may wish to consider using heating tape. It is a plastic strip with heating elements embedded that can be wrapped around pipes and plugged in. Heating tape is easy to install and can be purchased in most hardware stores. While it is effective, it can be expensive to operate and so should only be used when regular insulation is not enough.                   

If you ever need our help, contact us! We have a team of experts ready to service you.

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